White Sox winter meetings free agent catcher gabfest


The network was kind enough to suggest that team sites consider live-blogging the entire winter meetings, just to give readers something to breathlessly check in on all the fast-moving updates as they came across.

Instead, because we’re adults with jobs that pay us (save for me) we opted to email each other about news as it came out. We might do this every day for the rest of our lives.

The main thread that emerged was a debate over where the White Sox go next, kickstarted by Scott Merkin, who fleshed out a story about the White Sox contacting Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s camp with “You haven’t heard the last of me!” quotes from Tyler Flowers, and mentioning that pitchers liked Flowers

This, for the first time in a bit, offered up the aesthetically displeasing notion of the White Sox standing pat with their awful catching situation. Let’s look through it all!

Tyler Flowers

The implication that he has good relations with the staff is not nothing. In general, the baseballing internet could stand to be a lot less dismissive of intangible issues like this, but we are always at the mercy of the reporter’s ability to discern this kind of praise from idle talk.

And of course, any implication that this quality will carry Flowers through struggling in every other category obviously must be beaten in the town square and burnt.

Flowers, while still not willing to take the bum shoulder excuse route for his disastrous 2013, said “Don’t base one player’s season for the rest of his life,” in an interview full of curiously-worded statements. He did hit .211/.302/.411 over 282 plate appearances from 2011-12, numbers which would make him the incumbent if he reproduced it in full-time action, but every middling prospect is not entitled to multiple opportunities.

Josh Phegley

Bad at nearly everything he attempted last season. But not about to enter arbitration!

All these guys like Salty, apparently. // Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

The Sox kicking tires on Salty forces back up our opinions on Salty, which graded out as pretty negative during the offseason plan. His one above-average offensive season seems to be a product of a BABIP spike, and the defense is openly abominable. He’s thrown out just 23% of potential basestealers for his career and even some improved recent performance does little to dull the raw horror upon seeing that he had 26 passed balls in 2011. After he pitched a ball into left field to lose Game 3 of the World Series, he didn’t play again for the Red Sox.

But while the bat is not as good as 2013 showed, it’s been consistently in the neighborhood of league-average otherwise, and U.S. Cellular isn’t going to drag him down. It wouldn’t be hard for the White Sox to look at their minor league catching reserves, and think they would be better off ensuring mediocrity at the position for the next three or four years, rather than getting a one-year stopgap and checking in on the situation again. Just don’t expect a bargain, or to even like Saltalamacchia when it’s all over.

Dioner Navarro

Dan Hayes’ previews of the offseason featured a lot of Navarro mention, and why not? All any Sox fan saw Navarro do this past season is eviscerate their pitching staff. Between the girth, neck scruff and lefty-mashing (.361/.451/.672 in 2013), Navarro can easily draw Ramon Castro comparisons (but without the sexual assault arrests!), but is similarly only suited for a part-time role. And by acquiring a lefty-mashing specialist, that would be taking away the one thing Flowers or Phegley might be trusted to do on a major league team.

Carlos Ruiz and Wilin Rosario

Ruiz would seem to be a stopgap candidate, but has already received such a wave of multi-year deals that he is likely already out of the picture. The Rockies in particular seemed to be targeting him, prompting momentary speculation that Wilin Rosario might be available.

It was ill-founded, but who cares, because it meant this:

This Sears catalogue audition is impressive, but my personal favorite is “Dressed to impress while experiencing some difficulties completing a Pay-Per-View order”

But it also shouldn’t be forgotten that Rosario, nicknamed “Baby Bull” has embraced his moniker to the point of commissioning a statue.

And he has a profound appreciation for 90’s era aesthetics and photo backgrounds.

Rick. Get. On. The. Damn. Phone.

And after Hahn is done carving up the roster to get Rosario, he needs to clear some bullpen space and make room for Nestor Molina, so the first mid-mound visit selfie exchange can happen already.

"“Yep. This is our guy. I’ve got a new cause.”-Matt Adams"

To clarify, Rosario is a poor defensive catcher to the point of his team pursuing someone suitable to move him off, and he becomes a non-special bat once he moves somewhere else. This is about aesthetics.

A.J. Pierzynski

Besides raucous laughter at the irony of life, all A.J.’s return offers is the promise of non-awful offense, veteran know-how behind the plate (not nothing, again), and throwing a bone to those who will be outraged when Konerko is sent off. A 2005 talisman must be clutched to until the last one fades into dust.

If anything, 2013 showed that the permanent switch of 2012 was Pierzynski yanking for the fences, not his actual value. The surge has held off offensive decline, but the age surely shows when he gets into a crouch, though he had a good year by his standards in Texas (33% caught stealing and declines in wild pitches and passed balls). A reunion would be a short breather from awfulness and a nice moment, and he’s going to be 37 years-old, so be forewarned that it might not be a breather from awfulness either.

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan